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Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

John Nichol 1833–94

Mare Mediterraneum

A LINE of light! it is the inland sea,

The least in compass and the first in fame;

The gleaming of its waves recalls to me

Full many an ancient name.

As through my dreamland float the days of old,

The forms and features of their heroes shine:

I see Phœnician sailors bearing gold

From the Tartessian mine.

Seeking new worlds, storm-toss’d Ulysses ploughs

Remoter surges of the winding main;

And Grecian captains come to pay their vows,

Or gather up the slain.

I see the temples of the Violet Crown

Burn upward in the hour of glorious flight;

And mariners of uneclips’d renown,

Who won the great sea fight.

I hear the dashing of a thousand oars,

The angry waters take a deeper dye;

A thousand echoes vibrate from the shores

With Athens’ battle-cry.

Again the Carthaginian rovers sweep,

With sword and commerce, on from shore to shore;

In visionary storms the breakers leap

Round Syrtes, as of yore.

Victory, sitting on the Seven Hills,

Had gain’d the world when she had master’d thee;

Thy bosom with the Roman war-note thrills,

Wave of the inland sea.

Then, singing as they sail in shining ships,

I see the monarch minstrels of Romance,

And hear their praises murmur’d through the lips

Of the fair dames of France.

Across the deep another music swells,

On Adrian bays a later splendor smiles;

Power hails the marble city where she dwells

Queen of a hundred isles.

Westward the galleys of the Crescent roam,

And meet the Pisan; challenge on the breeze,

Till the long Dorian palace lords the foam

With stalwart Genoese.

But the light fades; the vision wears away;

I see the mist above the dreary wave.

Blow, winds of Freedom, give another day

Of glory to the brave!